Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only

The real comparison to modern WWE: Latter days AWA?


Recommended Posts

I have been watching a lot of AWA lately and it made me think about why AWA was such an easy territory for WWF to expand into and immediately do big business in. Obviously taking Hogan and Okerlund, the top babyface and the host of the AWA TV show, was a big factor. But WWF also took Junkyard Dog from Mid-South and that didn't translate into them doing business in Wattsland. I think the biggest reason that AWA did not have the same type of loyalty with their fans that Mid-South or Memphis did is because of their years long abuse of authority figures.

I don't know if it extends back before this but I do know that the decision to just hand the AWA World Title back to Nick Bockwinkel after Verne Gagne retired was something that fans still hated enough to write angry message board posts about it 20 years later on WrestlingClassics. Even worse than just that decision though was having Stanley Blackburn be the person to go on TV and explain it. It's AWFUL! He just stumbles and mumbles his way through an explanation of how a tournament would take too long because there are 100s of wrestlers who want the AWA Title. Then you have Wally Karbo going on TV to explain what happened every time there's a disputed or controversial finish and Wally Karbo is also TERRIBLE as an on-screen performer. Making terrible booking choices is bad enough but having those decisions explained on TV in a nonsensical manner just makes the fans start to believe everything is bullshit.

In my opinion, WWE is in the same boat now. They've squandered away a lot of their fan loyalty with bad booking choices AND horrible years long abuse of authority figures. The AWA made itself out to be an inept poorly run company through it's use of authority figures and WWE has made themselves a heel promotion that doesn't care about fans. I think their future is actually going to look a lot like latter days AWA. They are already morphing out of being a traditional wrestling company and turning into solely a content creator. They are already, through their own business practices and AEW's more friendly work environment, starting to rely more on green talent that's not quite ready for TV. WWE is never going to be taping TV in a pink room and they aren't going to die the same way AWA did but I feel like Vince is very much in the "out of touch Verne Gagne" stage right now. Modern WWE looks like 1984 AWA to me where stuff is still going strong and there are things to point at that are good but the structural weaknesses are very much there and it's hard to see things getting better.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Vince very much reminds me of out of touch Verne these days. I'm remembering the story of how Verne didn't get what the name "Midnight Rockers" meant because he thought it was referring to rocking chairs. 

Also Verne's insistence on relying on older guys was another similarity to modern Vince. Some of that was out of necessity, but the AWA had a bunch of aging legends pretty much all the way to the end. They weren't going to win over any new/younger fans with a bunch of guys that looked like your uncle and his friends drunk at the family picnic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Verne rocking chairs story is from Shawn's book. He also said that Greg wanted to call the team The Country Rockers. Take that for what it's worth. As for Blackburn, he was the figurehead AWA president whose proclamations usually screwed babyfaces on technicalities going back to the 60s. And yes, he was quite terrible at it. Just listen to him at the end of this video attempt to explain why the match between Jerry Lawler and Kerry Von Erich at Superclash III had to be stopped.

Regardless, he was considered within the business to have an incredibly sharp mind for wrestling to the point where Terry Funk would go to him for career advice.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...